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Unemployment claims jump locally

Unemployment claims in Gloucester and Mathews more than tripled from February, before measures were taken to combat the COVID-19 outbreak, to March, when Gov. Ralph Northam issued statewide stay-at-home orders and the state went into a virtual shutdown.

According to the Virginia Employment Commission, there were 441 unemployed residents in Gloucester and 97 in Mathews in the month of February, for unemployment rates of 2.2 percent and 2.3 percent respectively.

On top of that, between March 1 and April 4, there were 1,240 initial unemployment benefit claims filed in Gloucester and 254 filed in Mathews, said Ben Alpern, economic assistant for the Virginia Employment Commission. Those numbers represent an additional 6.3 percent of the Gloucester labor force and 6.1 percent of the Mathews labor force.

Compared to other localities in Virginia, he said, Gloucester ranks 53 and Mathews 56 out of 133 localities in terms of the percentage of unemployment claims. Alpern said that unemp...

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